The jacket copy of this slight first novel promises shock, grief, and the ""shattering effects"" of a ""medical emergency"" (breast cancer), when in fact the story as narrated by eleven-year-old Annie Reynolds in an undistinctive voice is as clinical as can be. ""I missed [Mother] terrifically on the one hand,"" she says remotely of her hospitalized parent, ""and on the other hand I was petrified of the idea of seeing her after the operation."" Mother's sudden operation seems to serve mainly as a reason to dear the stage while Annie grapples with her real problem, getting along with 14-year-old cousin Lou, an obstreperous girl (ignored at home) who lives with them each summer and whose annual presence Annie has never accepted; but this time, in the face of Mom's crisis, Annie and Lou come to a sort of mutual toleration. Mother's illness is handled admirably by Dad, the doctor, an understanding nurse, and by Mom herself; there are no complications, thank goodness, and she comes home weak but apparently well. There may be therapeutic or at least instructional value in the frank but textbookish discussion of breast cancer and mastectomy, but as a novel this falls short.